In the early 1970s Jerry and his brother got involved in their local scout group in suburban Melbourne. The leader, Christopher Adamson, was charming, well-liked and respected in the community, and befriended Jerry’s parents.
When Jerry was around 12 years old Adamson began sexually abusing him. This abuse took place at the leader’s home, where Jerry would be allowed to smoke and view pornographic movies and magazines.
Adamson would make Jerry masturbate him and would then ejaculate over Jerry. This happened on three occasions when they were alone. He remembers thinking, ‘why is he doing this? I wish he would finish, I wish he’d hurry up, I don’t like this’. At no time did Jerry ‘realise how wrong it was’, or that what Adamson was doing constituted sexual abuse.
The fourth time ‘there was another boy present, but it wasn’t as bad as the first three. It was just basically I got stripped off in front of everybody, in front of the two of them, which was really embarrassing for me’.
Jerry became rebellious as a response to this abuse. Adamson was so trusted by his parents that they even asked the leader to help calm him down and have him stay for weekends.
Adamson would threaten to tell Jerry’s parents about him smoking if he disclosed the abuse. ‘Well that was just too much for me to handle at that stage, 13 or 14 years old. So I kept my mouth shut.’ He also felt that if he told his parents they would accuse him of lying.
The only person he told about it was a classmate, who told someone else – and he was then teased about it for the rest of his school days. He didn’t know he could report it police.
After a year or so Adamson started ‘to push me away’, and the abuse stopped. Jerry began wagging school and failed a year, but managed to get back on track and started getting reasonable grades again.
Jerry found steady employment after school, got married and had children, and put the abuse ‘in a box’ for 20 years. One day at work a colleague mentioned a paedophile scout leader. This ‘just twisted the knife’– and prompted him to report the matter officially.
When Jerry spoke with police they told him they were already aware of Adamson. Jerry made a formal statement and Adamson, who was still involved with the scouting movement, was arrested a few days later. The investigation progressed quickly, and over 40 charges were laid for offences against a number of victims.
He contacted another scout leader at this time, and the man advised him that he had a list of boys abused by Adamson, which he had received from police. Despite Jerry’s name being on this list the organisation never offered him any support.
Within months Adamson was in court. Jerry was not required to give evidence, but attended court and provided a victim impact statement. He was disappointed this statement was not read out in court, and particularly hurt when the assistant prosecutor told him it wouldn’t have made any difference anyway.
The majority of the charges were dropped in a plea bargain, reducing the case to one ‘representative charge’ for each victim. Adamson, who was in his 60s at this time, was convicted and served one year in prison, with the judge noting that ‘he’s not a threat to society anymore, although once upon a time he was dangerous (or words to that effect)’.
Jerry was disappointed by this comment, and the overall outcome, and felt the judge had hurried the trial. He feels very let down by the legal system. ‘It was like watching something crumble in front of you, you know, like I was promised the world and delivered nothing really.’
After the matter was heard he fell out with his parents, as he believes they did not protect him. It has been two decades since he spoke to them, and his children do not know their grandparents.
Jerry has seen a counsellor about the abuse in the past but is not receiving any support currently. He received a victims of crime compensation payment but has not as yet made a claim against the Scouts, and has considered suing Adamson personally.